Ayahuasca: An Integral Element in a Living Wisdom Tradition

posted by Roman Hanis on January 17th, 2020

Ayahuasca is becoming an international household name though her real purpose may be getting lost in translation. 

Living and apprenticing within the Amazonian and Andean ancestral healing traditions since 2001, I’ve observed their exponential increase in popularity all over the globe though mainly as a response to modern consumerism looking for an instant fix.

In the past Ayahuasca was part of mystery initiation schools encouraging a deep relationship with oneself,  wise elders, lineage holders and all sincere people dedicated to living wisdom. It’s the steady pace of evolution integrated with all aspects of life that keeps me on this path, which I share alongside friends, as we support and witness each other’s transformation over a lifetime.

The most profound discipline within this mystery initiation is an innermost practice of fearless heart-presence applied to all life situations.

The Womb of Creation

Traditionally Ayahuasca ceremonies are conducted in a dark, round structure called a Maloka, which symbolizes the return into the womb of Mother Nature. The sacrament invokes the Spirit of Nature to help facilitate the fully conscious journey of rebirth out of a limited, separate existence by remembering the language of life itself.

Art by Jen Anu

Recently, I supported a friend through this ancestral healing of her childhood trauma. It had to do with her parents being split up early on in her childhood accompanied by conflicts, arguments, substance abuse and emotional unavailability. As a small child she froze and blamed herself for everything, thinking that something was fundamentally wrong with her.   

Unable to reconcile the original traumatic experience she was doomed to repeat the same scenario throughout most of her adulthood. She unconsciously sought acceptance for her inner child in intimate relationships, close friendships and her professional career but never actually succeeded. 

To Be or Not to Be

After a lifelong struggle my friend made a commitment to the living wisdom of rebirth to get to the bottom of her predicament of not finding a way towards unconditional love.

What is living wisdom? To me it’s a wisdom of being. Not trying to be someone or get somewhere or accomplish something. Just being. An essential slogan I find useful is “Be at ease with what is, no matter what it is.” This type of wisdom is not easy to cultivate since at times I find myself avoiding the complete experience of certain moments. I get overwhelmed, stressed-out and succumb to eating a cookie when reaching my “limit” or engage in a multitude of distractions all standing by for my distress signal.  

This “To be or not to be” motif has been a quandary of humanity for as long as most of us can remember. In fact there is a whole entertainment industry today thriving on just that. Fortunately however, there are cultures across the globe carrying memories from long before our current written history. 

Beyond the mere tales of times long gone, these are actual intergenerational lineages of direct experience – transmitting the primordial state of being that’s been applied practically and consecutively over millennia for the human spirit to shine in the face of adversity. 

These living wisdom traditions have been a saving grace in my life, helping to navigate the turbulent river of life’s unexpected waterfalls, twists and turns.

Not all Those Who Wander Are Lost, But I Am…

To be found I must get lost first. Admitting to myself that I am lost and coming to terms with it, I find the necessary motivation to find the way. Realizing that I have spent my whole life hiding and avoiding feeling lost out of a belief that there was no way to be found can be difficult to admit. 

Once admitted though, I was relieved to find out that I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel that took countless dedicated lives and many eons of cumulative experience to manifest. Afterall, the Spirit realm is an enormous dimension to explore and easy to get lost in without guidance. 

Having that same incredible “discovery,” my friend realized that the cumulative wisdom of humanity is directly relevant to the challenges she’s been dealing with her whole life. Not only that, but she could honor the ancestral heritage as a springboard to dive ever-deeper into the infinite potential of being that keeps the living wisdom traditions alive in each generation. If it wasn’t for such people being truly interested in what these traditions are about beyond appearances and exotic rituals there would be nothing left of intercultural wisdom’s treasury of being.

In these ancient traditions a deep transformative intention in one’s life is a prerequisite to participation. Ayahuasca can then support the evolutionary rebirth.

The Language of Being

What’s so hard about simply being, you might ask. Actually, it might be too simple for the complicated mind to understand, which is why I find the guidance of direct experience to be so essential. The initial wake-up call for me also involved understanding that I was looking for lasting happiness in all the wrong places, but had to do with a lot more than just that. The understanding had to give birth to a heart of sadness allowing for greater responsibility in each moment of my life. 

A sadness for the dreamlike nature of reality that I have taken literally for so long, so immaturely. A sadness of looking back at adolescent assumptions of know-it-all behavior only to find that real ignorance is not the absence of knowing but thinking that I know something. 

Being is the easy part but to disentangle old stories, stale concepts and ideas that perpetuate the illusion of separation and prevent the heart from opening requires serious training. An elder shared with me how there’s so much excitement nowadays about the power of now but not many acknowledge the power of old habits, rigid personalities and elaborate self-deception. 

In my friend’s story she kept investigating her original trauma. She saw herself unable to make mistakes and learn from them due to a lack of support for her as a child. She then had an inkling of insight – a blessing in disguise within the trauma. Unbeknownst to her, that trauma was a call on a heroic quest to find the source of clarity and nurture in herself, never to be lost again. 

How many of us are on our own heroic life-journey without suspecting it?

A Love for Life

The wisdom lineages of humanity do not shy away from suffering, instead finding disease, old age and death to be potent catalysts for the awakening of undying love, tried and true in the most difficult situations.

It’s because of all the problems, worries and anxieties that I love life more than ever, recognizing the creative force of nature within and all around, persevering through tremendous challenges. I can ignore the potential of fearless love within and yet witness flowers sprout through cement, water polish rocks and friends rebirth in their hero’s journey as continuous reminders. Just knowing what’s always available under the habit of me standing in my own way, the spark of motivation is ignited. The discipline of living wisdom can begin from even a tiny reminder of heart-wisdom’s potential.

Because of all the adversities, the relationship with the lineage of realized practitioners, and all who find themselves through it, develops in a genuine way. While there are no secrets, this path has more to do with the degree of willingness to be honest about and responsible for one’s creative flow of life.

The Answer is in the Question

A student once asked a master, “What is the purpose of life?” The master looked at the student with a brilliant gaze and responded, “Such a magnificent question! Why ruin it with an answer?!”

In the Amazon rainforest the native people often refer to the traditional healers as the Curious Ones. 

Before you can learn you have to learn how to learn – that was an essential message from my elders referring to the language of being. Alongside receptivity, being able to smile at myself in the midst of my drama is another essential element in that language.

Each one of us has been born completely helpless, unable to perform even the simplest tasks and definitely not needing to earn love. Paradoxically, it’s within that original innocence that the seed of evolution is planted – naturally children wish to evolve and keep moving forward no matter how many times they fall down.

Consciousness is the Main Evolutionary Ingredient

Did I mention Ayahuasca? Yes, it can be implemented very skillfully for steady evolution and lasting realization on this path. “Skillfully” is the key word, however. Otherwise, what sense does it make to hammer nails with a microscope? Even though there are many profound ways to support transformation, none can substitute consciousness. It’s up to each individual to get real, since it’s one’s own consciousness that comprises the main ingredient in Ayahuasca and life itself for that matter.

It was actually not in an Ayahuasca ceremony that our friend experienced the full initiation and was finally birthed out of her vicious trauma cycle, though Ayahuasca prepared the fertile ground for that to happen. The heritage of various Amazonian lineages helped to vividly relive the past in a way where she understood the dreamlike language of all people and life circumstances as aspects of herself. 

One day my friend was reenacting her initial trauma via a symptomatic dance shared with me by an Ashuar nation of the Amazon. This time instead of freezing up she allowed herself to remain present and at ease with the experience of her life being torn apart. 

A light portal formed through all the tearing and she went through it into the brilliant dimension of truth. She was always supported by the ground of unconditional love and guided by the infinite light of higher consciousness as her true parents. She just had to remember that to suddenly find herself surrounded by all beings as her universal family; the greater organism we are all a part of. Her whole life preceding that moment was a gestation process. All the darkness had it’s higher purpose to prepare her for the birthing of being a light unto herself.      

From here on, this very unconventional living wisdom curriculum continues through many thresholds of awakening to one’s unconditional nature. Resilience amidst life’s inevitable adversities rooted in fearless love gives birth to clear sight, evolutionary healing, active compassion, boundless generosity of presence and the timeless happiness of indestructible truth. After all, true happiness is only possible when shared, and if you find your true self in wishing happiness for all, then happiness has no end. 

It’s time for humanity to remember how the light of awareness is born from the dark mystery of the heart.

Inspired to connect more? Check out our Podcast, “Life is a Ceremony” >>

Paititi Institute’s next Embodying True Nature Transformation Retreat is coming up February 1-11, 2020.